Down But Not Out by Zack Fugate
Down, But Not Out
“But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness.”-Luke 21: 12-13
Around every corner in the world today there are empty promises, trials, false witnesses, self-help digests, and idolatrous temptations. As Jesus’ words above teach us, there is a cost for worshiping his name. At the core of his words, however, hope is found as he IS hope in and of itself. Teaching the concept of perseverance to my children as they have grown over the years has been one of the most difficult challenges I have faced as a father. It is not because we have not faced trials, as we surely have had many. But I find it challenging to help them understand that perseverance pays off…that finding joy and hope in trials produces a harvest.
Each of my children have decided to pursue athletics in some way shape or form, be it basketball, baseball, cross country, or wrestling. What I have come to appreciate about the fact that they play sports are all of the amazing opportunities that come about to discuss this very concept. Some of them have faced trials with teammates, with their own limitations athletically, with tough losses, and with experiences of self-inflation and self-righteousness.
It was a recent event, however, that the Lord provided an incredible example of perseverance for my youngest son during a wrestling tournament. At the end of the first period, he found himself down 0-5. In the second period, he happened to take his opponent down and the period ended with a score of 2-5. As they headed into the 3rd period, Uriah had 60 seconds to find a way to make up three points to have a chance. What I noticed about my son, however, was that his focus seemed different than in years past. Historically, he would have been emotional, not able to think clearly, and panic would have started to settle in and overwhelm him. This time, he was laser-focused and listening. He chose the down position so that he could get a point for an escape and then try to tie things up by taking his opponent down. That is not how things went, however. In quick order, Uriah reversed his opponent and the score was 4-5 with 35 seconds left as the time was stopped on account of them sliding off of the wrestling mat. At that point, Uriah could either let his opponent go, giving him a point for an escape making the score 4-6, which would have allowed him to try for another take down to tie it up. Or, he could work to turn his opponent over to try and get back points or win with a pin. Ultimately, he ended up holding his opponent down, flipping him over, and getting three back points to win the match with a score of 7-5. As a father, I was so excited for my son…not because of the fact that he had won, but because of his perseverance. How much more, then, is our heavenly Father excited or glorified when we persevere through trials for the sake of His name, trusting in his strength to get us through. You see, I took the opportunity to talk with my son Uriah about giving thanks to the Lord for giving him the perseverance to overcome. Why, you might ask…because the glory is the Lord’s! It is He who overcomes, and He is where strength comes from during times of trial.
“Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.”-Luke 21:14-19
Brothers and sisters in Christ, pray with me that we will all be eagerly calling upon the Lord during the trials we may face, lest we find ourselves bloated with self-righteousness and self-worship. The battle has already been won; victory was established through Christ’s death and resurrection, for we are truly loved by a great and awesome God!
Your brother in Christ, Zack Fugate